Sunday, October 30, 2011

College Football Week 9 BCS Observations - Who might make it to the BCS championship game?

The third week of the BCS numbers have been published and like last week, it is time to take a look and see what they can tell us.  And this week, we look forward to who might make it to the championship game.

There are no big surprises this week, Clemson and Kansas State both drop, and Oklahoma moves up.  One surprise given the closeness of their game was Arkansas moving up 3 spots to #7 after a 3 point win at Vanderbilt that could have been a loss.  Vanderbilt isn't a bad team, #42 in my computer's rankings, but the computers not being able to use MOV handcuffs them and most moved Arkansas up.  And with Clemson and K-State losing the polls felt obligated to move them up too.

One big oddity in the computers is that Wisconsin, #20 in the BCS and #17 and #18 in the polls, and among the top-5 just a few weeks ago, is ranked in the top-25 by only one computer.  My computer still has them at #8, not forgetting their 31 point thumping of Nebraska, but again, the BCS computers can't factor that in.  But does anyone believe 5 of the 6 computers are right and Wisconsin isn't a top-25 team?

Yet another case where the computers look off, but in the other direction, ranking a team too high, is Houston.  The polls have them at #14 but four of the computers have them at 8, 8, 11, and 13 while one doesn't have them in the top-25.  My computer has them #22 which seems more accurate to me.

I do have to give credit though as the overall BCS calculations as my computer agrees with the top-5 and in the same order and roughly the same spacing.  Perhaps they should just my computer and skip all the details!

On to the more interesting part, looking at scenarios and who might make it to the championship game.

My computer projects 4 teams to finish undefeated before the conference championship games; Boise State, Alabama, Oklahoma State, and Stanford.  Now, two of those teams, Alabama and Stanford would likely have to play South Carolina and Arizona State but even with those games my computer says they finish undefeated.  I think it is safe to say that if these 4 finish that way we would likely have an Alabama vs Oklahoma State championship game.  There is a chance Stanford could overtake the Cowboys for the #2 spot especially with the extra game to impress, but it is unlikely as Oklahoma State has a big lead in the computers and won't give that up if they run the table.

If Oklahoma State loses, Stanford is the obvious choice to step in to play Alabama, but what if Oklahoma State and Stanford both lose?  On the surface, Boise State is the logical choice but could it really happen?  Let's look at some of the specifics to figure that out, the key being what 1-loss team might not fall behind BSU or which one could leap ahead?

If Stanford loses, Boise State would move ahead of them as they are already ahead in the computers the Stanford would drop in the polls too.

If Oklahoma State loses though, they could stay ahead of Boise in the computers as they are well ahead now, but they might fall enough in the polls to compensate for that. But Oklahoma State's loss could very well be to Oklahoma in which case they'd likely move ahead of BSU (they are right behind them now) and it could be very close in the polls.  Further, it is not safe to assume that the Alabama/LSU loser will fall that far and they could stay ahead of Boise.  So it is unlikely in my opinion that Boise makes it to the championship game unless Stanford loses, Oklahoma State loses and it is to someone other than Oklahoma, and the LSU/Alabama game is a blowout.

I do have a "BCS compatible" algorithm in addition to the regular one I publish, and while I don't like its results and it is not a good predictor of games like my regular one is, it is fun to look at scenarios to get a feel for what the BCS computers might do.  If I put in an LSU loss to Alabama, an Oklahoma State loss to OU, all 4 of Alabama, OU, Oklahoma State, and LSU are ahead of Boise State.  This further supports my hypothesis that Boise State is likely out even with things falling their way.

What do you think?  Who is in the title game if Stanford loses and OU beats Oklahoma State?  See the poll to the right and vote.